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Sir Bani Yas Island wins world’s leading sustainable tourism destination at 2014 World Travel Awards

posted on 18/12/2014

Sir Bani Yas Island, the dedicated nature reserve that is being developed into a nature based touristic destination by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), has won ‘World's Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination' at the 2014 World Travel Awards in Anguilla.

The announcement came at a special ceremony held in Anguilla, in the presence of international tourism industry leaders, including senior officials of principal travel companies and tourist board chiefs.

The World Travel Awards is acknowledged around the world as one of the highest recognition for a travel product, celebrating excellence in the global and travel tourism industry.

Ali Majed Al Mansoori, TDIC's Chairman of the Board, said, "We are very pleased and proud that Sir BaniYas has won World's Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination.

This esteemed award re-affirms all of our efforts to maintain the Island's ecological and conservation legacy even as we develop it into a globally-recognised touristic destination that offers luxurious and unique experiences for both visitors and guests." Initially developed into a wildlife reserve by the late president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Sir Bani Yas Island, a 87-square kilometre island located off the coast of Abu Dhabi, is now home to over 13,000 free-roaming animals and birds as a result of dedicated environmental and conservation efforts. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Dubai rated among top destinations for holiday season

posted on 18/12/2014

British Airways has rated Dubai among top travel destinations this festive season along with other popular holiday spots such as Barbados, New York, Australia and Barcelona.

British Airways' biggest Christmas operation kicked off with 2.7 million customers flying during the festive period and 267 flights flying around the network on Christmas Day.

The busiest day for people jetting around the globe with the airline will be Friday December 19 with 129,000 people flying.

Dubai-based Emirates airline also expects this week to be its busiest of 2014, as travellers head home or abroad for the holiday season. Over 80,000 people will travel on 19 December with Emirates on over 240 flights, according to the airline's latest booking figures. This represents an increase of almost 23% over last year.

Currently, British Airways operates three flights a day from London Heathrow to Dubai. The airline also offers UAE residents two daily flights to London Heathrow from Dubai and one daily flight from Abu Dhabi.

On December 25, 267 flights flown by 817 pilots will be making their way around the airline's network delivering loved ones. The 3,500 cabin crew working on Christmas Day will serve customers more than 37,000 turkey dinners and traditional mince pies.

Christmas will be bigger and better for British Airways in 2014. This year, the airline unwrapped its presents early, with the arrival of 20 new aircraft into its fleet since last year's festivities. It means British Airways is expecting to fly its biggest ever operation carrying some 2.7 million customers over the festive period.

Festive period calculated from December 12, 2014 to January 5, 2015. – Emirates 24/7 -


Four films from Abu Dhabi Film Festival head for Hollywood Hills with Golden Globe nominations

posted on 18/12/2014

As testament to the quality of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) to curate and present exceptional films from around the globe to the local audience in Abu Dhabi, four films that previously participated at ADFF have been announced as nominees for the 2015 Golden Globe Awards.

The nominated movies include: Big Hero 6 (closing night film at ADFF 2014) for Best Animated Feature Film; IDA (ADFF 2013) and Leviathan (Black Pearl Award winner at ADFF 2014) for Best Foreign Language Film and J.K. Simmons of Whiplash (ADFF 2014) for Best Performance by an actor in a supporting role in a motion picture. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Dubai Culture to mark International Arabic Language Day to underscore magnificence of the ‘Arabic Letter’

posted on 18/12/2014

The Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Dubai Culture, the emirate's dedicated authority for culture, arts, and heritage, is marking the annual International Arabic Language Day with an array of activities aimed at highlighting the beauty and the essence of the Arabic language.

Held under the theme, "Arabic Letter", Dubai Culture will host a line-up of workshops, interactive activities, competitions, and theatrical performances, tomorrow at Arabian Centre, from 5pm to 9pm. Each activity will build on the integral aesthetics and value of the letters that make up the Arabic language. Participants of the performances will also be awarded for their showcases.

Celebrating the essence of the evolution of the Arabic language, and its growing popularity as one of the most prevalent languages across platforms everywhere, International Arabic Language Day underscores the UAE's goal to strengthen and preserve Emirati national identity.

Saeed Al Nabouda, Acting Director-General of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, said, "As the driving force of Dubai's culture and arts industry, Dubai Culture has been committed to encouraging the use of the Arabic language since its inception. Complementing the vision of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Arabic Language Charter, this year we will once again put the spotlight on one of the world's fastest growing languages.

"Through the diverse array of activities, we are focused on encouraging our nation's Arabic calligraphers to bring their works to the forefront, enabling residents and visitors across the country to revel in the glory of each Arabic letter, underlined by our theme for this year's celebrations." Dubai Culture will hold the Arabic Language Day celebrations in collaboration with Dubai Municipality, Dubai Education Zone, Erqa'a Centre for Arabic Language, and Tender Ambassadors from the Dubai Youth Club. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Al Ain Zoo evolves over the years

posted on 18/12/2014

A wild animal taken into captivity only to be sold to a zoo where it will spend the rest of its life in a tight enclosure for the pleasure of viewing is a very disturbing fact for anyone who cares for nature.

Sadly, such practices still exist, but most zoo parks around the world nowadays work towards conservation of wildlife and make their animals' welfare a priority.

Saving wild animals from illegal captivity is what Al Ain Zoo has ended up doing, and 50 of its lions have come this way.

"Some were donated to us and some were given to us by the authorities, who confiscated them from people who kept them as pets after buying them illegally from smugglers,” said Rashed Al Saadi, communication manager at Al Ain Zoo.

The oldest and largest zoo in the UAE, Al Ain Zoo was opened in 1968 and much has changed and improved since. In the same time he established the zoo, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan banned hunting in the emirate and initiated the first breeding programme of the Arabian Oryx, which was already extinct in the wild. In 1972, the first calf is born at the zoo and, years later, in 2007, the first herd of Arabian Oryx born and bred at the zoo is re-introduced to the wild.

One of the first residents to arrive from Africa was Lady, a Western Lowland gorilla, who was four years old when she got here from Cameroon.

"Recently, Lady lost her ‘husband' and she was left all alone. We placed a rabbit with her and they have become good friends. There is also a TV in her enclosure and she loves watching the Barney and Friends cartoon. Seriously, I'm not joking,” said Al Saadi.

In the first decade of the new millennium, a series of conservation projects and improvements to the animal enclosures began at the zoo. A wildlife park reserve was announced with animal safari — African style — luxurious resort accommodation, even a glass-walled restaurant in the lions' den and residential houses too. All of these are yet to happen and may start as early as next year.

"We are now working on the North Kenya safari, which will include lions and other wild cats, giraffes and maybe even elephants,” revealed Al Saadi.

"It is going to be a very large area, going all the way to Jebel Hafeet. The plan is to open it in 2015,” he added.

In 2008, Al Ain Zoo signed an agreement with San Diego Zoo — one of the world's biggest — mostly for staff training purposes and conservation projects. In 2013, the partnership was extended for another 20 years.

Several endangered species make the conservation programme of Al Ain Zoo, including the African wild dog, rhinos, Grevy's zebra and the Arabian sand cat.

The critically endangered Addax, a Sahara desert antelope, numbers less than 300 in the wild, but the zoo has 72 and hopes to breed enough to save the wild population.

Altogether, Al Ain Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals and some of its latest arrivals are sheep, goats, geese, ducks, ponies and camels, all part of the Children's Zoo.

A bird show, UAE's only parrot show, giraffe-feeding experience and the back-of-house educational tours are also some of the main attractions for the younger visitors. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -§ion=nationgeneral


Solar plane set to arrive in Abu Dhabi next month

posted on 18/12/2014

The Solar Impulse plane is set to arrive in Abu Dhabi in a few weeks, and will then leave the capital to circumnavigate Earth using nothing but energy from the sun.

Weighing the equivalent of a standard sedan car, the Solar Impulse plane will take about 600 flying hours to go around Earth without fuel.

The Swiss pilots, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, will take turns to fly the plane. Certain cross-continental legs will push them to maintain focus for sometimes up to five days and nights.

"We have an airplane that is completely sustainable in terms of energy,” said Mr Borschberg, a former Swiss air force pilot.

"The other question is that there is only one pilot for the airplane [at a time] and we need to make the pilot sustainable as well, to be able to live in this space day and night.”

The team has been implementing several methods to try to maximise rest time and maintain focus for days on end while cramped in a cockpit just 3.8 square metres in size. The space is smaller than the inside of the average saloon car.

"We learnt how to breathe,” he said. "We are resting for very short periods of time, then we developed techniques to rest without sleeping. Sometimes we have short naps, sometimes we use yoga meditation.”

The team has also developed special food that can withstand a range of temperatures as low as minus 20°C and as high as 35°C.

The plane itself is an engineering first. It uses solar panels as thin as strands of hair to generate energy and minimise weight. The engine operates at 97 per cent efficiency – so efficient that at times it has a completely charged battery upon landing.

"The difference, talking about the way this airplane flies, is there is one thing that is amazing – that you can take off in the morning with zero fuel and, just using the energy from the sun, at the same time you can recharge the battery,” said Mr Borschberg.

Flying the solar plane is not only a zero-emissions operation, it is also a source of energy that could be fed back into the grid.

"It's an incredible experience of course; the airplane is very quiet,” said Mr Borschberg.

"It makes almost no noise, so while you fly you can hear noises from the ground and other airplanes in the sky.”

The team will leave Abu Dhabi in March, and spend five months circumnavigating the Earth before returning to the capital.

The Solar Impulse team is partnering with the Masdar Institute to complete the project.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and CEO of Masdar, said: "Abu Dhabi, Masdar and Solar Impulse have in common a pioneering spirit, a long-term vision and a desire to explore new horizons. We share a commitment to foster the development of technological advances in alternative energy sources, in order to contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable future.”

Dr Nawal Al Hosany, director of sustainability at Masdar and director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, said: "State-of-the-art infrastructure, ideal sunlight, and wind conditions for the training and test flights all make Abu Dhabi a natural choice as host city for SI2 [Solar Impulse 2] from a technical perspective. But there is much more to the decision.

"When you add the role Abu Dhabi plays as a leading player in the advancement of renewables and clean technology, then the synergy becomes even clearer.

"We have a fantastic opportunity to showcase our commitment to developing clean energy globally, while also inspiring people across the UAE.”

The 12-leg journey will cover 32,000 kilometres, but specifics depend on weather conditions, however.

"Although this plane cannot fly in bad weather, it has no fuel limitations. The strategy will be different,” said Mr Borschberg.

The team will be in a flight control room, and will adjust the flight path to avoid poor conditions. At times it may be necessary to backtrack or avoid flying for a day due to potential risks.

"I am extremely excited, cautious and busy,” said Mr Borschberg. "We started 11 years ago and finally it's very close. It's somehow difficult to realise. We want to make sure that we do everything right. There is a lot of preparation still to do.”

When the team arrives in mid-January it will start testing with Masdar before embarking on its journey. – The National -


UAE among first to create water systems known as falajs

posted on 18/12/2014

Archaeologists, heritage experts and researchers revealed that the UAE was among the first countries in the world to create the water systems known as falajs, and to create human settlements thousands of years ago.

At the Conference on Water and Life in the Arabian Peninsula, experts stressed that the history of oases and falajs in the eastern region of Abu Dhabi and the impact of water on the building and architecture of ancient human settlements represent a global human wealth.

The conference, sponsored by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and held at Al Qattara Arts Centre this week, shed light on the effects and the heritage of water in the region and the role that the Hajar Mountains had in the formation of groundwater reserves in the Ard Jaw plain.

Dr Walid Al Tikriti, head of the archaeology department at the TCA, presented a paper on irrigation systems and the impact of water on civilisations in the Bronze and Iron ages. He showed how water was the main factor in determining the shape of human settlement in the region. He discussed architectural elements and archaeological findings that remained from those two civilisations.

Six falaj systems discovered in Al Ain and north of the city were associated with permanent and semi-permanent human settlements dating from the Iron Age and prove that south-east Arabia was a key area for this type of irrigation and that Al Ain and Al Buraimi oases originated from this system. – The National -


Mohammed bin Rashid launches Dubai Strategy 2021

posted on 18/12/2014

Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has launched the Dubai Plan 2021.

The launching ceremony was attended by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council. Launching Dubai Plan 2021 is the beginning of a new phase of sustainable and systematic developments in all vital sectors in the emirate of Dubai.

On his remarks, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid affirmed the importance of cooperation between all stakeholders to achieve the objectives of the plan, which basically targets people s happiness and welfare by developing all sectors. He asserted that collaboration among various departments in Dubai Government will lead to excellence and a comprehensive development in the quality of government services.

His Highness said that the rapid regional and global changes compel us to double our efforts to protect our achievements and enhance our opportunities to reach new ones; this approach constitutes a strategic objective that serves the best interest, both individually and collectively. Sheikh Mohammed concluded that Dubai Plan 2021 is a clear and detailed roadmap, and the success depends on our commitment and our ability to cope with the changes efficiently.

From his side, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has directed all the entities in the Government of Dubai to align their strategic plans with Dubai Plan 2021 to ensure consistency and synergy. His Highness said in this regard: "Dubai 2021 is a city that puts people first. Dubai Plan 2021 is the highest priority for Government of Dubai for the next seven years. It represents a roadmap documenting the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for Dubai s future and an interpretation for the community s hopes and aspirations for a promising future.

Dubai Plan 2021 took one year in the preparation phase, following directives from H.H. The Crown Prince to the General Secretariat of the Executive Council earlier this year to work on the development of Dubai Plan 2021 with the aim of launching it with the close of 2014. The Plan is inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The Executive Council formed teams made up of representatives from various entities in Government of Dubai in addition to a strong representation from the private sector and civil society.

The framework of Dubai Plan 2012 includes six themes that define and describe Dubai in the year 2021: City of Happy, Creative & Empowered People An Inclusive & Cohesive Society The Preferred Place to Live, Work & Visit A Smart & Sustainable City A Pivotal Hub in the Global Economy A Pioneering & Excellent Government.

Commenting on the launch of the plan, Secretary-General of Dubai Executive Council, Abdullah Al Shaibani praised the cooperation of all parties involved in the development of the plan and their eagerness to collaborate through the various workshops organised in this regard. He said, "Dubai is a city that embraces all members of its community with their diverse cultures and languages, and makes them feel an integral part and key players in shaping its future. Our wise leadership constantly urges us to look for ways that guarantee people s happiness and offer them better services with the highest international standards. During our continuous collaboration with all partners in the formulation of Dubai Plan 2021, we have translated these visions into reality through initiatives, programs and strategic plans developed to enhance Dubai's status locally and globally".

He added, "Dubai continues to flourish and rise, and launching Dubai Plan 2021 supports Dubai s development, ensuring its sustainability in line with long term well thought out standards that align with leadership s vision and that fulfil the needs of all of Dubai s people." Dubai Plan 2021 aligns with UAE Vision 2021 and the National Agenda key performance indicators, and complements Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 (DSP 2015) launched by His Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2007, which aimed at realising the vision of Dubai under the slogan "Dubai ... Where The Future Begins" by coordinating the efforts of all government entities, through a common framework.

Dubai Plan 2021 aims to reinforce Dubai positioning as a global centre and destination across a number of fields, programs, and projects launched recently, which have included winning the right to host the World Expo 2020, the launch of the initiative to transform Dubai to become the capital of the Islamic economy, and the launch of the Dubai Smart City strategy. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohammed bin Rashid: UAE's financial sector primary driver of development

posted on 18/12/2014

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has emphasised that the UAE's financial plans and monetary policies are part of an all-encompassing national economic vision that is aimed at consolidating the global standing of its national economy. H.H. Sheikh Mohammed also emphasised that the country's financial and banking sector, which is the largest in the Arab region, is the primary driver of development in the UAE.

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed made his remarks yesterday at his executive office as he received Mubarak Rashid Al Mansouri, Governor of the UAE Central Bank, who presented the national medium and long-term financial strategy which is aimed at establishing the UAE's financial stability and sustainability.

H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs, and Obaid bin Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, attended the meeting.

During the meeting, the central bank team presented a number of new initiatives which will be implemented in the UAE's financial sector in the coming period. Sheikh Mohammed directed the team to prepare its plans in coordination with the business banking sector so as to achieve continuous economic growth and contribute towards the realisation of UAE Vision 2021, including ensuring welfare and decent living for all citizens.

"The financial sector of the country is the primary driver of development and the foundation for our high confidence in our national economy," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

"The country's banking sector is one of the most important sectors on which we rely in the process of Emiratisation. This sector made huge efforts in this respect and we expect it to be more effective in the future," he added.

Al Mansouri also presented a group of initiatives for improving the Central Bank's performance in terms of structure and regulation, financial control, studies, research and statistics.

He also presented his vision for developing a number of new regulations and legislations which the central bank will work on in the coming period to improve the financial sector and develop infrastructure in order to achieve high global competitiveness for the UAE's financial sector. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohamed bin Zayed: UAE laid solid foundations for military

posted on 18/12/2014

His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, emphasised that the UAE, led by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has laid solid foundations for its advanced military through highly-qualified personnel who receive advanced technical and scientific training in all military services and regarding the use of all military equipment.

H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed made these remarks as he attended the 44th graduation ceremony of Cadet Pilot Officers, the 11th course of Air Officers, the fourth course of Female Officers and the second course of Air Support Officers, at Khalifa bin Zayed Air College in Al Ain.

"The UAE seeks to bolster and protect the national process of development and building through armed forces that have the ability and capabilities to serve as a protective shield for national gains," added H.H. Sheikh Mohamed.

He expressed satisfaction with the new group of Emirati men and women participating in the military parade with high morale and skills that reflect their advanced academic and practical training. This, he noted, demonstrates their high preparedness for playing a role in serving the country and their passion for catching up with their colleagues in the air, land and sea forces who have already had the honour of protecting the nation and its gains and achievements.

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed hailed the training and scientific capabilities of Khalifa bin Zayed Air College and the other military training institutions.

Upon arrival at the college for the graduation ceremony, H.H. Sheikh Mohamed was greeted by Lt. General Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Nasser Al Alawi, Commander of the Air Forces and Air Defence, and Staff Brigadier Sami Saeed Salim Al Nuaimi, Commander of Khalifa bin Zayed Air College.

The ceremony was attended by H.H. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler`s Representative in the Eastern Region, H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor and Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, sheikhs, senior officials, high ranking military commanders, diplomats and the families of the graduates.

The UAE national anthem was played while H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed inspected the line of the new graduates, then verses from the Holy Quean were recited.

A squadron of fighters, trainers, transport and air support aircraft of the UAE Armed Forces performed an airshow during the ceremony.

Later, the graduates took oath before H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and vowed allegiance to the UAE and its president. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohamed bin Zayed directs building permanent heritage village

posted on 18/12/2014

His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has given a directive for building a permanent heritage village in Al Wathba City at the site of Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2014, taking place from 20 November to 12 December, said Sheikh Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Advisor to the UAE President, Chairman of the Emirates Camel Racing Federation and the chairman of the higher organising committee of the festival.

Sheikh Sultan greeted President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the occasion, thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed for his supportive initiative and H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs for following up on the event.

He hailed the success of this year's edition of the festival which attracted more than 60,000 Emirati and expatriate families.

Sheikh Sultan noted that the UAE leaders who provide full support to the country's rich heritage are walking in the steps of the founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The festival celebrates the UAE's culture and heritage, showcases the rich diversity of its traditions and provides an educational platform for the public. It also illustrates that the UAE's development and progress has not been a coincidence but a legacy of the forefathers' inspiring achievements. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


ADFD: Abu Dhabi-funded housing project in Asilah to be completed soon

posted on 18/12/2014

TANGIER: A 700-unit housing project in Asilah City, Morocco, will soon be completed at a total cost of Dh73 million, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) announced on Tuesday.

In a statement, ADFD said that its three-phased community housing project also includes a museum, a school and a bus station and will be handed over to the Moroccan government in the first quarter of 2015.

The ADFD noted that 400 units were built in the first phase, 200 in the second phase and 100 are under construction in the third and last phase of the project which is part of Abu Dhabi's efforts to support Morocco's economy and resettle residents of the city's slums.

ADFD 's Director-General, Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, said that the fund supports the project as part of the UAE's keen interest to contribute towards Morocco's economic development.

He added that sustainable development in Morocco is prioritised by Abu Dhabi's fund, and that the Fund looks forward to further consolidate its fruitful work and developmental support in order to contribute to efforts to alleviate the suffering of the people.

ADFD was established in 1971 as a leading national entity to provide development aid to developing countries in the form of concessionary loans and administering grants on behalf of the government of Abu Dhabi. The aim is to finance development projects in order to support efforts to achieve economic and social development in developing countries. The ADFD also makes investments in order to encourage the private sector in the recipient countries to play an essential role in accelerating the economic development process. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Minister of Environment and Water inaugurates Agricultural Innovation Centre

posted on 18/12/2014

Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, inaugurated yesterday the Agricultural Innovation Centre in Al -Dhaid, Sharjah, aimed to promote latest agricultural advancements and maintain the agricultural sector's sustainability in the UAE through state-of-the-art technological innovations, research works, and relevant consultations.

The Centre will coordinate with top-notch international centres specialising in agricultural technologies through the execution of joint scientific research and partnership programmes and schemes to develop the country's agricultural system.

Speaking on the occasion, Bin Fahad said the Agricultural Innovation Centre falls in line with UAE Vision 2021, which is inspired by the National Work Programme of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and aims to position the UAE as one of the world's best countries by 2021.

The launch also complements the National Innovation Strategy recently unveiled by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. This Strategy will strive to make the UAE one of the world's most innovative countries in seven years by focusing on seven major sectors including renewable energy, technology and water.

Bin Fahad added that the Agricultural Innovation Centre is part of the Ministry's strategy to enhance food safety in the country and promote the sustainability of local production. Amidst the growing technological developments in the agricultural sector such as the use of modern techniques and DNA profiling, he said it is imperative to keep the country's research works on agriculture abreast of advanced science and technological developments in order to discover new dimensions of the local agricultural sector.

He added that the research industry is a key pillar of the country's overall development, pointing out that the Centre is poised to promote the latest agricultural advancements and maintain the sector's sustainability through the integration of innovation into the field of agricultural research.

While touring the new Centre, Bin Fahad checked the projects, research and modern technologies and examined their compatibility with the country's climate conditions and limited supply of irrigation water. He was also briefed on the ongoing research about greenhouse and hydroponic systems development as well as the experiments conducted to cultivate quinoa.

Following last year's successful experimental results, the Ministry of Environment and Water is planning to expand the cultivation area for quinoa to introduce the farmers to its uses and benefits. This will pave the way for the integration of quinoa, which is being used in many food industries as it offers lucrative economic returns and has the ability to grow in hot and dry climates.

The Agricultural Innovation Centre encourages innovations to maintain food sustainability and drive sustainable agricultural development. This is in line with its vision of implementing modern technological innovations in the agricultural sector to promote a sustainable industry given the available resources. The Centre's mission revolves around employing local and international expertise to establish sustainable agricultural development in the country.

The Centre further aims to reinforce research in various agricultural applications and segments, including modern innovative technologies, to address the numerous requirements and challenges of modern agriculture. It aims to promote cooperation and exchange of expertise among concerned local authorities and relevant regional and international research centres in the UAE and the rest of the world.

It will also collaborate with international organisations, authorities and industry experts, namely the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (ICARDA). The Centre will cooperate with the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), as well as participate in various joint studies covering local agricultural segments, such as a study on the effects of multiple levels of salinity on the production of some salinity-tolerant agricultural and pastoral crops. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE Relief Team distributes aid to 569 families of Syrian refugees in Jordan

posted on 18/12/2014

AMMAN: Members of the UAE Relief Team yesterday distributed humanitarian aid to 569 families of Syrian refugees in Jordan, in implementation of the initiative of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, GWU, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, FDF, and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Honorary President of the Emirates Red Crescent, to provide winter needs for the refugees.

The initiative includes the provision of food parcels, heaters, blankets and other means of heating for the protection of refugees, especially children, from the consequences of the cold winter.

The aid is being distributed in cooperation with the UAE Embassy in Amman, the Emirati Relief Team and the Jordanian Red Crescent Society, along with a number of international humanitarian organisations working in the Jordanian arena.

About 14,000 Syrian refugees inside and outside camps in Jordan will benefit from this aid. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE condemns Peshawar terrorist massacre

posted on 18/12/2014

The United Arab Emirates has expressed its denunciation of the cowardly act of terror which targeted a school in the city of Peshawar in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and claimed the lives of 141 citizens, including 132 children.

His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces said: "In this painful and difficult moment, we stand by Pakistan and its people in the face of this blind extremism and criminal terrorism and ask Allah the Almighty to bless the young and innocent victims of heinous malice, perpetual hatred and dark violence." "As we pray for the souls of innocent children, we ask Allah the Almighty to grant solace and strength to their parents, families and to the people of friendly Pakistan." Sheikh Mohamed went on to say such despicable acts "strengthen our resolute and firm position against extremism and terrorism because we are well aware that those criminal hands know no limits, mercy, law or religion. We are more convinced now that confronting terrorism is a collective responsibility that requires decisiveness." "As we stand, as we always have, by the government and people of Pakistan, we learn from this deplorable crime that our war against terrorism is our way to guarantee saving lives, maintaining communities and enhancing peace and to eradicate a plague that is aimed at tarnishing our religion of Islam, which is founded on tolerance and love and which is a reflection of our humanity and identity." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Sharjah Ruler to attend UNESCO's World Arabic Language Day in Paris

posted on 18/12/2014

H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, is to attend the celebrations of World Arabic Language Day on Thursday at the headquarters of the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture, UNESCO, in the French capital, Paris.

The Ruler of Sharjah's participation in this event as guest of honour is attributed to His Highness' many contributions to the Arabic language service.

Dr. Ziad Aldrees, President of International Plan for the Development of Arab culture in UNESCO, said, "The choice of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan as guest of honour at the ceremony and His Highness' approval to attend the event, crowned our efforts in Arab cultural development and makes us more keen to be more giving so as to follow H.H. Sheikh Sultan's contribution in supporting the Arabic language." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Nanhua Futures joins DGCX as Broker Member

posted on 18/12/2014

The Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange, DGCX, announced yesterday that Nanhua Futures Hong Kong, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nanhua Futures (China), the leading Chinese overseas futures company, has been approved as a Broker Member of the Exchange.

Since its establishment in 1996, Nanhua Futures (China) has been actively involved in both commodity and financial futures brokerage services. The company maintains full member status of Shanghai Futures Exchange, Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange and Dalian Commodity Exchange, and is one of the first companies to gain general clearing member status of China Financial Futures Exchange. With registered capital of 510 million RMB, Nanhua Futures is now recognised as one of the top 10 futures companies in China.

Gaurang Desai, Interim CEO of DGCX, said, "We are excited to introduce Nanhua to the DGCX community as a Broker Member. Nanhua offers comprehensive market views and a range of risk management tools to their members, and its addition to our member base further demonstrates our ability to provide a platform for international brokerages to expand and grow their business in the region. DGCX's continually expanding product portfolio coupled with its Emerging Market strategy means that the exchange is well positioned to continue to attract international broker members." "We are delighted to join DGCX as a broker member as this will expand our reach to the Middle East & North African region as well as to the South Asia sub-continent. This collaboration will enable us to provide our members with a secure platform to trade a wide range of regional products. We look forward to growing a strong relationship with DGCX," said David Luo, General Manager of Nanhua Futures Co. Ltd and CEO of Nanhua Futures Hong Kong Co. Ltd.. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


DFM and Bahrain Bourse plan swift transfer of securities from second half of 2015

posted on 18/12/2014

Dubai Financial Market (DFM) signed an agreement with Bahrain Bourse (BHB) to introduce an electronic system to enable investors to transfer their shares easily and quickly.

The MoU creates the general framework that defines the guidelines of the transfer process and administers the relationship between both sides as well as explaining their capacities, the DFM said in a statement.

The two sides agreed to introduce the new electronic system during the second half of 2015, enabling swift share transfers to be executed during the official working hours of the exchanges. The system will not require any official correspondence regarding share transfer, validation and endorsement.

"We are confident that the new arrangement will further strengthen DFM's leading position as the market of choice for GCC- based companies looking for dual listing abroad," said Eisa Kazim, chairman of DFM.

DFM listed securities currently include the three Bahraini companies Gulf Finance House, Al Salam Bahrain Bank, and Arab Insurance Group-ARIG. A total of 4.7 billion shares in those companies have been transferred to DFM.

Currently, about Dh35 billion of shares of Bahraini companies traded on DFM so far this year, representing 10 per cent of total trade value. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


ADPC launches "Maqta Gateway" project

posted on 18/12/2014

Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor and Vice Chairman of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) launched today a new innovative port community system project, "Maqta Gateway", to serve the community by interlinking all of the relevant parties involved in Abu Dhabi's growing import and export trade business.

Taking the "one-stop-shop" philosophy to a new level, "Maqta Gateway" will offer ports, exporters, importers, shipping lines, customs and government agencies a single point of contact and real time information at any time of the day - even via mobile, significantly enhancing processing times and communication procedures.

The system will ensure smooth transport and logistics operations involving Abu Dhabi ports, airports and railway networks. It will feed into wider global supply chain communication platforms and act as an accelerator for development and trade in the Emirate, a core objective for ADPC and a central pillar of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

"'Maqta Gateway' will help facilitate the next generation of trade in Abu Dhabi and will dramatically transform the Emirate's way of doing business. It will make import and export activities more efficient, transparent and thus more time and cost effective while guaranteeing optimum supply chain efficiency," said Capt. Mohammed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO, ADPC.

The official launch of the "Maqta Gateway" project took place at the Emirates Palace where high level government officials and key industry professionals witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between ADPC and partner organisations, all of whom will be integral in developing the system.

These included the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW), Abu Dhabi Customs Administration (ADCA), Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), Etihad Rail, Abu Dhabi Airports and Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT).

"As more than 90% of global trade travels by seas, ADPC's ports are crucial logistics hubs for Abu Dhabi's trade business and services. Handling trade efficiently through our ports involves the close cooperation between all the parties involved and we have to work together to push Abu Dhabi and the UAE to the forefront of cutting edge, supply chain technology and logistics. With this in mind, we sincerely thank the Abu Dhabi leadership and our stakeholders for their full support and collaboration in setting up "Maqta Gateway" project," Al Shamisi added.

As a result of the introduction of "Maqta Gateway" project, ADPC is the first organisation in the GCC region to become a member of the International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA), a global body which promotes the highest possible standards in international port community system operators.

"We are delighted to welcome ADPC as our 26th member and our first member from the GCC and indeed the whole of the Arab world. By joining our association, ADPC has proven to be a valuable candidate in establishing electronic networks and e-services to facilitate global trade," said Alan Long, Chairman, IPCSA.

Maqta Gateway takes its name from the Maqta Bridge which was the first crossing to communicate Abu Dhabi island with the mainland. It was a crucial connection for Abu Dhabi's trade and development and the Maqta Gateway will be a crucial 'bridge' for future business opportunities, both nationally and globally. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


A Window on Korea to open in Abu Dhabi

posted on 18/12/2014

A Window on Korea, WOK, is to be opened at Khalifa Park Library on Thursday 18th of December, by the National Library of Korea.

The WOK offers over 1,931 material services such as K-POP, soap operas, movie materials, as well as the history of Korea, cultural, and academic related books. Over the next 5 years, an additional 1,000 materials will be provided.

The opening ceremony will be attended by Kwon Hae-ryong, Korean Ambassador to the UAE, Jumaa Abdulla Al Qubaisi, Director of the Library and Ryu Chung-young, Director-General of the Planning and Training Department of the National Library of Korea.

WOK has been opening establishments in overseas libraries for seven years, providing Korea-related books, non-book materials, space remodelling, bookshelves and computers. It enhances not only an increased understanding of Korean culture and history but also supports Korean studies abroad and boosts its global image at the same time.

The Korean Ambassador said, "In a relationship spanning many decades, the UAE and South Korea have traversed many common areas of interest with mutual respect and cooperation. This event has a great significance to expand the library-related area between our two nations." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Sheikh Saif reviews anti-crime efforts of CID

posted on 18/12/2014

Lt-General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, has reviewed the investigation management efforts exerted by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

The efforts included methods of combating crime, using the latest technology and maintaining the gains of the UAE in the fields of security and prosperity in accordance with the best international standards.

Sheikh Saif attended the second annual forum of the Criminal Investigation Department at the Abu Dhabi Police. He commended the honourees while stressing the importance of motivating and encouraging current and future employees and partners to pursue further excellence and enhance their performance in a way that serves society and achieves the aspirations of the nation.

Sheikh Saif and the attendees watched a film highlighting the achievements of the CID made through the use of the best international techniques and quality standards that have led to receiving internationally recognised certifications.

He presented certificates and shields of appreciation to employees and partners in the presence of Major-General Mohammed bin Al Awadhi Al Menhali, Director-General of Police Operations; Major-General Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi, Director-General of Central Operations; Brigadier Omair Al Muhairi, Deputy Director of Police Operations; Brigadier Hussein Ahmed Al Harithi, Director of Traffic and Patrols Directorate; and Colonel Dr Rashid Mohammd Borshid, Head of the CID at the Abu Dhabi Police.

In his address on this occasion, Col Dr Borshid said the forum forms a link with partners to deepen and strengthen relations with institutions and individuals. "The department will continue to implement projects and initiatives through embracing methods of teamwork and interaction with partners,” he said. – Khaleej Times -§ion=nationgeneral


DFWAC helped 836 cases up to the end of the third quarter of 2014

posted on 18/12/2014

The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, DFWAC, has provided care services for 836 cases of domestic violence and child abuse and human trafficking between the beginning of the year and the end of September.

Afra Al Basti, Director-General of the Foundation, said that DFWAC received about 385 new cases during the third quarter of this year, included 26 internal cases who have been sheltered in the foundation, and 359 external cases who were not in need of shelter, but received care and rehabilitation services.

She explained that the cases received during the third quarter of this year included 163 cases of domestic violence, 23 cases of child abuse and just 4 cases of victims of human trafficking, as well as other cases that were received for humanitarian reasons, or for general consultation.

The Director-General of DFWAC confirmed that Emirati nationals made up about 48% of the cases, while other nationalities accounted for 51%, in addition to two other cases with unrecognised nationalities.

She added that the spouse topped the list of abusers in cases that DFWAC received during the third quarter of this year, with 105 external cases and 4 internal cases abused by their spouse.

"The father topped the list of abusers in the internal cases during the same period, as 12 cases were abused by the father, 8 internal cases and 4 external cases suffered this abuse," Al Basti said.

She added that the cases received during the third-quarter included 163 that were subjected to verbal or emotional violence, and 136 exposed to neglect and ignorance. There had been 111 cases of physical abuse, 102 cases of financial abuse and 37 cases of sexual abuse. A single case may be exposed to more than one type of abuse.

Al Basti said that the figures of the third quarter of 2014 give very positive indications, especially with regard to increasing awareness among members of the community on how to deal with violence and resort to seek help from the authorities concerned, as 344 cases communicated directly with DFWA for help, while the rest of the cases were transferred through official bodies and security agencies or through family and relatives.

She added that in the third quarter of last year, 2013, DFWAC received only 93 internal and external cases, and this large increase in the numbers reflects the growing confidence of community members in the foundation, characterising the level of services provided to them, most important of which is to ensure the privacy of customer's data.

Al Basti urged all parties and members of the community to support and cooperate with DFWAC to accommodate the continued increase in the number of cases, noting that the foundation will double its efforts in the coming period to ensure the continued provision of services at the best possible level. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Kite flyers head to Dubai for world record bid on 20th edition of Dubai Shopping Festival

posted on 18/12/2014

Kite flyers from around the world will converge in Dubai next month to participate in the Dubai International Kite Fest (DIKF), as a part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which runs from 1 January to 1 February 2015.

The 20th edition of DSF, which is organised by Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), has a range of world-class events and activities, and the kite-flying is one of several attractions that focuses on offering family fun across the city.

The three- day DSF kite fest from 29 – 31 January 2015, will be held at the beach in Jumeirah 3 (behind Sunset Mall) featuring some of the world's finest kite flying teams from 25 countries , governed and approved by the International Kite Flying Association (USA), according to the organisers Classic Concepts, an event management company.

Organisers will also attempt to break a Guinness World Record with the help of over 15,000 participants who will be flying kites simultaneously at 15 or more locations across Dubai, offering a golden opportunity for kite-flying enthusiasts to be a part of this record-breaking feat.

Dubai International Kite Fest will also see the launch of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative – "Green Dubai – Clean Dubai", as part of efforts to raise awareness about environmental conservation. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -